WNPR

Merrill: You Can Get Bumped From Connecticut Voter Rolls, But Not As Easily As In Ohio

Jun 12, 2018

The Supreme Court is allowing Ohio to clean up its voting rolls by removing the names of people who haven't cast ballots in some time. 

By a 5-4 vote, the justices rejected arguments that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states -- including Connecticut -- also use voters' inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls.

In Ohio, residents who fail to vote for two years will get a notice in the mail. If they don't respond and they also fail to vote in any election for four more years, they are presumed to have moved and are taken off the voter rolls.

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said she was disappointed by the ruling.

"We do a similar thing to Ohio," she said.  "It's just that it takes much longer and is much more careful about when you take someone off the voter roll. You still can be taken off eventually."

Merrill said that, in Connecticut, it takes missing two federal election cycles to trigger a notice in the mail. That could mean twice as long as the standard in Ohio.

"The difference in this case is that Ohio was overly zealous, I believe, in kicking people off the voting rolls simply for not having voted in a couple of elections," she said. "We have to be very, very careful before we take people off a voting list. It can prevent them from voting, and that's their right to vote."

And while Ohio voters have to vote at some point over the next four years to stay registered, Merrill's office said the bar is lower in Connecticut. All you have to do is interact in any way with the voting process -- anything from signing a petition for a candidate to get on a ballot to voting on a local referendum.